<< HEARTFIELD CHRONOLOGY - ALL YEARS1940 1941 1942 1945 1946 1947

“You don’ know what you’re a-doin’.” 
Casey, a character in the film 'The Grapes of Wrath'
Casey, a character in the film 'The Grapes of Wrath'

English Internment Camps WW II. German Anti-Nazi Artist John Held As Enemy Alien In England, 1940.

John Heartfield find asylum in England in 1940. For more than a decade the anti-Nazi anti-war activist artist has risked his life and the life of his family to use his art as weapon to against the insanity of fascism and The Third Reich. He is placed in English internment camps four times for short periods as an enemy alien (Category C). The conditions in the camps are terrible. Heartfield becomes severely ill and will never fully recover.

After his release, he meets Gertrud Hedwig Fietz. John and Gertrud remain inseparable until Heartfield’s death in 1968. They are married shortly before Heartfield’s death in East Germany after Heartfield is politically and financially forced to return. He’s treated as a traitor in the communist regime of East Germany because of the length of his stay in England and the fact his dentist is under suspicion by the Stasi, The East German Secret Police. The communist idealism of his youth will be shattered.

John Heartfield’s son Tom had one son, the exhibition’s curator John J Heartfield. The curator knew Gertud Heartfield as his adopted grandmother. They enjoyed time together in Italy and wrote many letters to each other after John Heartfield’s death. Everyone in Tom Heartfield’s family called Gertrud an affectionate nickname – Tutti.

John Heartfield after English Internment, 1940


Professor John J Heartfield is John Heartfield’s paternal grandson. He gives live interactive presentations around the world that focus on his grandfather’s life and work and modern political art. Please write to him to request his presence at your event or ask any question. He is always pleased to hear from exhibition visitors.

Dada Political Artist John Heartfield grandson, John Heartfield, Curator Official John Heartfield Exhibition